Here’s a list of selected films we like that deal with the subject of artificial intelligence and futurism:
Ex Machina (Dir. Alex Garland)
This gem from Alex Garland really gets into the philosophical side of artificial intelligence, and revolves around a ’Turin test’ in order to see if the prototype robot in question is indistinguishable from a human. There are some brilliant ideas in this, being a thriller that’s tense in places and it also works as a comedy, due to the main tech genius being such a creepy oddball. There is a great scene about Jackson Pollock’s automatic painting which really stuck with me:
Quote: Nathan: Jackson Pollock. That’s right. The drip painter. Okay. He let his mind go blank, and his hand go where it wanted. Not deliberate, not random. Some place in between… What if Pollock had reversed the challenge. What if instead of making art without thinking, he said, “You know what? I can’t paint anything, unless I know exactly why I’m doing it.” What would have happened?
Caleb: He never would have made a single mark.
Nathan: He never would have made a single mark… The challenge is not to act automatically. It’s to find an action that is not automatic. From painting, to breathing, to talking, to fucking. To falling in love…
Humans (UK-US TV Series)
Series 1 of this excellent show hit the spot perfectly, by arriving at a time when having a robot around the house feels like an inevitable addition to your gadget collection. Set in a ‘parallel present’ Synths are highly developed robotic servants that are so similar to real humans that it’s transforming the way people live. The Hawkins family buy a robot servant called Anita, but they soon begin to suspect that they may be in danger from this highly-developed machine and the man in search of her. The show is tense, funny at times and poignant.
Quote: “I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand the question.” – Anita
I saw Spike Jones’s subtle, emotional journey on a plane, and was mesmerised by the ideas in it. I also loved the art direction, and quirky fashions which made Joaquin Phoenix a retro-modern geek. ‘Her’ is a story about a man who falls in love with a female-voiced operating system called ‘OS1’ – not that far fetched really, if you think about how obsessed people are with their Apple products. I won’t try to explain the rest – it’s a weird and intriguing ride.
Quote: “Well, basically I have intuition. I mean, the DNA of who I am is based on the millions of personalities of all the programmers who wrote me. But what makes me me is my ability to grow through my experiences. So basically, in every moment I’m evolving, just like you.” – Samantha
Ai (Dir. Steven Spielberg)
Worth watching for the creepy first half alone – this is a tale of a young robot boy that is based on the story of Pinocchio. This dark Sci-fi noir has great style and takes the viewer on an adventure into the world of ‘Mecha’ robots. One of my favourite scenes is when David visits ‘Dr. Know’ to ask about the ‘Blue Fairy,’ which parallel’s our human quest for the meaning of life. A.I magic.
Quote: Female Colleague: “If a robot could genuinely love a person, what responsibility does that person hold toward that mecha in return? It’s a moral question, isn’t it?”
Professor Hobby: “The oldest one of all. But in the beginning, didn’t God create Adam to love him?”
WALL-E (Pixar Animation Studios)
This superbly animated film has the craft and direction of a live action film. In a distant, but not so unrealistic future where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash from products sold by the powerful multi-national Buy N Large corporation. WALL-E is a garbage collecting robot has been left to clean up the mess. The humans in the film have become lazy, blob-like creatures that buzz around on go-carts on a space ship. Pixar’s most cautionary tale yet..
Quote: “Ta-dah!” – WALL-E
Alien (Dir. Ridley Scott)
Ridley Scott’s unique Sci-fi horror is still a classic all these years later, and one of it’s most memorable scenes is when Ripley discover Ash is an Android. Sorry if I’ve ruined it, but if you haven’t seen it you’ve been on another planet!
Quote: “You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility… I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.” – Ash
Bladerunner (Dir. Ridley Scott)
Ridley Scott’s All-New “Final Cut” Version of the film – restored and remastered with added & extended scenes, a feature length documentary and the 1982 Theatrical Version – the original that contains Deckard’s narration and has Deckard and Rachel’s “happy ending” escape scene.
Quote: “Replicants are like any other machine. They’re either a benefit or a hazard. If they’re a benefit, it’s not my problem.” – Deckard
The Matrix (Dir. The Wachowski Brothers)
I still only rate the original Matrix movie, and seeing that in the cinema (twice) is something I’ll never forget. Religious mysticism and Sci-fi often make a good mix (See Star Wars), so I appreciated the Buddhist philosophy in Matrix story, which they combined with stunning visuals and effects so well.
Quote: “Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.” – Morpheus
2001: A Space Odyssey (Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
Widely held as Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, this film featured the HAL 9000 computer – an A.i who is visually represented as a red television camera eye located on equipment panels throughout the space ship. HAL starts to malfunction, and faced with the prospect of disconnection, HAL decides to kill the astronauts in order to protect and continue its programmed directives, and to conceal its malfunction from Earth.
Quote: “I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it.” – HAL 9000
Idiocracy (Dir. Mike Judge)
This is not an A.I film, but more related to Automation, since it predicts a future in which humankind have become gradually dumber, due to the trend of trashy media and technology making us too lazy to have to think anymore. Luke Wilson plays ‘average’ Joe Bowers, who is cryogenically frozen in a government experiment and finds himself waking up far into the future where everyone is a complete dumbs, and he’s the smartest guy on the planet. You’ll want to own this one – I’ve seen it several times and could watch it again for the hilarious lines and situations.
Quote: “Unaware of what year it was, Joe wandered the streets desperate for help. But the English language had deteriorated into a hybrid of hillbilly, valleygirl, inner-city slang and various grunts. Joe was able to understand them, but when he spoke in an ordinary voice he sounded pompous and faggy to them.”
More A.I films to be reviewed soon: